Learning Organisational Development as a Community


The term ‘community of practice’ is a relatively new addition to the consulting vocabulary, but it describes an age-old phenomenon. It refers to any group of people brought together by a shared interest and desire to learn, from ancient tribes learning survival skills to kids playing football after school.

Etienne Wenger, the educational theorist who first formalised the concept in 1991 with anthropologist Jean Lave, defines a community of practice as a group of people who “share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” [1]

Amongst the myriad of definitions of organisational development (OD), at PPL, like Warren Dennis’ 1969 definition they define OD as ‘a response to change, a complex educational strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values and structure of organisations so that they can better adapt to new technologies, markets and challenges, and the dizzying rate of change itself.’

For organisations like PPL’s clients whose work is delivered through their people, OD means putting people at the heart of change and equipping them with the skills, knowledge and motivation to make change stick.

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